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Boehner Opens E-Mail Inbox to Nation

Anyone in the country can now e-mail Speaker John Boehner.

After former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) passed the gavel to the Ohio Republican, his office launched for voters to easily contact him.

Members of Congress have long accepted e-mail from their constituents through Web forms, but they’ve typically blocked people from outside their districts or states from writing.

Boehner’s director of new media, Nick Schaper, said having a general address makes it easy for citizens to contact the Speaker online.

Schaper added that the “Speaker Boehner” mailbox, which collects messages from both a Web form and direct e-mails, received about 150 e-mails over the weekend, with roughly 20 percent related to the Tucson shooting.

“It’s our goal to make sure we’re tracking every touch we have with citizens — calls, letters, emails — in a way that allows us to keep them informed on the issues they care about,” Schaper told Roll Call in an e-mail.

The all-access mailbox originated with Pelosi during her first stint as Minority Leader five years ago. She invited people to e-mail her at Staffers read and evaluate the e-mails, and they even respond to a lucky few.

“We want to hear from everyone, not just constituents,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said. “It’s an opportunity for people to have a way to weigh in on issues of the day.”

According to Hammill, Pelosi receives reports on the trends and issues that are dominating the e-mail correspondence.

And just as the e-mail address operated during her tenure as both Minority Leader and Speaker, Hammill said “will continue to serve as her way to hear from people across the country” in her new role.

As for Boehner’s new e-mail address, Hammill said the success of Pelosi’s address likely inspired the Speaker’s team.

“I have no doubt that’s something they wanted to mirror,” he said.

Schaper said the GOP has taken “full advantage” of the Web in recent years, adding that citizens will “now see that enthusiasm translated into more effective governing.”

Boehner recently told NBC’s Brian Williams that he gets “strength every day just going to my Facebook site.” Boehner is no stranger to other forms of new media, and has the @SpeakerBoehner Twitter account to go along with his accounts on Facebook and YouTube.

“Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or the next communications tool we’ve yet to see, the Speaker and his colleagues will continue to explore new avenues to connect with those they represent,” Schaper wrote.

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